Letter to My 16-Year Old Self

120 km/hr


I have been advised to write you in my capacity as your older self in order (I presume) to spare you a great deal of pointless bother. However, I am sure you will disregard this advice as you have rejected all others’. You are stubborn, compulsively contrary, and insist on thinking everything through for yourself. So, if I tell you (for example) not to worry about death, that death is merely a figment of language, you will not accept this. You will weigh this notion against others you have encountered, add it to the whirlwind of thoughts forever blasting through your impractically-sized brain, and only attain a degree of calm on the subject many years later. I wish it could be otherwise, but you don’t: it is your nature, and you’re proud of it. Too bad for you, son.

So while you’re sweating out Death, Careers, Love, The Meaning of Life, Morality, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Sex, Technology, War, and yes I know I’m leaving out a whole bunch of stuff…I will ask you to keep this one thing in mind:

There is no excuse for loneliness. The world is full of people WHO NEED YOU – TODAY, NOW – and that will be true every second of your life. If you feel lonely, just walk through the nearest door. Don’t expect Eternal Love, or any love in return – you will find pleasure and fulfillment in giving love, and unrequited love can be as intoxicating as love that is ecstatically returned. (And don’t split hairs over romantic vs. altruistic love, Eros vs. Agape, etc. etc. etc. You know what love is. On this point you will fool no one.)

Is someone out there for you? Shit, man, there are countless people out there for you! By the time you reach my age the problem will be that you only have one self to give to the world. There are days I wish I could send serial selves to laugh with this person, console that one, and help a third one move. But if you don’t circulate, you’ll never meet them.

So grow some guts, be less selfish, and leave your room more often. That’s my only advice to you. Now, get lost and have fun.

[Dictated but not signed]

I wrote this letter in response to the soulful Miss @mentalexotica’s piece Dear 16-year old mentalexotica, and posted it as a comment on her blog. I usually don’t post personal stuff on this site, but I think the letter’s core message – share yourself – fits here.

Photo by Jan Saudek: 120 km/hr (1975)


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